With his contract running down, could Arsenal be about to make a move for long-term target Chris Smalling?

It’s now being widely reported that Arsenal will look to make a £12m move for Manchester United’s 25-year-old centre-half Chris Smalling this summer.

For those of you who don’t know Arsenal’s history with Chris Smalling, there was a time a few years ago when Arsenal were battling with Manchester United for the signatures of young British players. Aaron Ramsey, Phil Jones, Chris Smalling and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain all had the opportunity to join either club.

Arsenal had offers accepted for both Jones and Smalling, but both chose to join Manchester United. Ramsey and Oxlade-Chamberlain meanwhile both joined Arsenal.

Fast forward to last summer and it’s rumoured that one of the main reasons that Arsenal didn’t sell Thomas Vermaelen to Manchester United is because Arsenal wanted Smalling in exchange and United wouldn’t let him go.

And that pretty much brings us up to date.

Danny Welbeck of Arsenal scores his team's second goal despite the attentions from Chris Smalling of Manchester United
MANCHESTER, ENGLAND – MARCH 09: Danny Welbeck of Arsenal scores his team’s second goal despite the attentions from Chris Smalling of Manchester United during the FA Cup Quarter Final match between Manchester United and Arsenal at Old Trafford on March 9, 2015 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

This summer, Smalling only has 12 months left on his deal with Manchester United and whilst United would like Smalling to extend his contract with them, no offer has yet been made. According to the reports, Wenger sees this as a chance to finally get his man (and in a cut price deal!).

United’s form has improved dramatically since the start of the season and part of the reason for that is because of the defensive improvements made by Jones and Smalling. Van Gaal however still wants to bring in additional defenders this summer (Hummels has been strongly linked) and Wenger sees that as an opportunity to make a move.

Despite signing Paulista, Arsenal could be potentially short again at centre-half at the end of the season with the longer term Arsenal future of Per Mertesacker unclear.

With this in mind, the media have linked Arsenal with a string of centre halves since the end of the transfer window so these reports could simply be an extension of that – a link created out of convenience based on past knowledge (Arsenal bid for him) and current information (Smalling’s contract and Arsenal’s defensive question marks).

I’d imagine in the next few days we will know if these Smalling reports are more than just rumours as they will either die out quickly or momentum will grow. After Welbeck though, I’m much happier with the idea of a United player joining Arsenal than I was before (Silvestre).

As an added bonus, Smalling would also count towards Arsenal’s Home-Grown quota, but as @bradley08 looks at here – Arsenal aren’t in as much trouble with the new rules as the media will make out in the next few days.

Smalling has made 22 appearances in all competitions for Manchester United this season scoring 3 goals.